Solutions to Midnight Panic Attacks and Other Fun
When You Start Homeschooling
By Linda Dobson
I know, I know. All of those homeschooling moms you know seem so cool, collected, and self-assured. Lean in; shhh. I’m about to let you know what they went through when they started homeschooling. You know, just so you know they’re human…just like you.
Midnight Homeschooling Panic Attacks
Midnight homeschooling panic attacks look different from those discussed in psychology journals. Instead of shortness of breath and dizziness, your mind is gripped by an overwhelming certainty that every single child sitting in a classroom is learning five times as much as your child is at home – at least. Are you studying the right things? Are you doing enough? Pushing too hard? Not hard enough?
Midnight homeschooling panic attacks are sometimes triggered by conversations with others (especially relatives!) but, most often, by thoughts that exist nowhere but inside your own head.
Solution: Pull out your books on homeschooling (especially those written by that fabulous author, Linda Dobson). Not only will you be treated to a review of all the reasons you chose homeschooling in the first place, you’ll be reminded of that moment when you finally realized, “Yes, we can do this!”
Feel Like Throwing in the Homeschooling Towel, Even When It’s Clean
Interestingly, February is often a make-or-break homeschooling point, a time of year when new homeschooling parents might consider throwing in the towel. In February, the initial thrill of homeschooling has likely mellowed into a routine, the hectic holidays have come and gone, and – in the colder parts of the country, at least – childhood energy isn’t finding release through daily outdoor activity. Cabin fever sets in.
Forewarned is forearmed. If you think about remedies beforehand, your family’s cabin fever shouldn’t reach epidemic proportion.
Solution: Instead of threatening to stick your kids on the first bus that passes the front door, take off a week – or an entire month! This will give you all time to break out of the rut, and to think about what you might do differently when you gear up again.
Our Homeschooling Is Going to Be Just Like that Family In the Book!
In the early years of my family’s homeschooling, one of the few first-person accounts of homeschooling I read was the Colfaxes’ Homeschooling for Excellence (Warner, 1988). While I may have been uncertain about exactly what I was doing, I now knew at least one thing I wouldn’t do: pack up and head for California to raise goats.
Let Your Family’s Uniqueness Shine with Homeschooling
Perhaps my children were lucky that the only story I read included a lifestyle that I couldn’t imagine for us, because I may have done what many new homeschooling parents do: try to duplicate another family’s homeschooling and claim it as our own.
Solution: Realize that folks who share their stories want to showcase the educational diversity available in homeschooling freedom. They want to spark your creativity, and hope that an idea or two – not their entire lifestyle – may be helpful in your own homeschooling adventure. Stay focused on meeting your family’s needs, talents, energies, values, and evolving ideas about education. After all, homeschooling does that better than anything.
Choosing the Most Structured Homeschooling Approach You Will Ever Use
Again, forewarned is forearmed. Although letting go and loosening up are understandable struggles for many, anecdotal evidence has always indicated that homeschooling families tend to do just that. I decided to check into this a little more closely while writing Homeschooling: The Early Years. When I asked sixty-six homeschooling families to compare the amount of structure in their homeschooling when they began to where they are now, 59 percent had moved toward less structure. When Shari Henry surveyed sixty-one more families for Homeschooling: The Middle Years, 64 percent had also become less structured in their approach.
Solution: This tendency reveals that many homeschoolers eventually allow trust in themselves and their children to replace structure. It also shows that just as with any endeavor, it takes some time and experience to relax enough to feel comfortable doing something new.
Inability to Trust That Homeschooling Children Will Learn Even When You Don’t Teach
The inability to trust that anyone – most especially children – can learn without someone’s teaching is routine in a society raised on compulsory school attendance.
It’s hard to go against societal expectations, even when you’re totally convinced they are wrong. “It was tough to trust the unschooling process unless I saw the kids doing ‘schoolish’ things or making great strides in some area,” explains Thyne Rutrough. “But I’m beginning to trust that those times when they aren’t apparently learning anything are essential to their learning – they’re processing and putting together bits and pieces of old and new knowledge from here and there.” Like many homeschooling parents, Thyne has found that the knowledge pops up unexpectedly in surprising combinations.
Solution: Again, allow yourself time and experience because they help, as does your growing parental ability to pay more attention to what is happening than to what isn’t happening. Relax as much as you can, and let learning happen, joining in whenever you can.
Why Do Strangers Think They’re In Charge of Our Homeschooling?
Funny, but a child out and about in the real world during school hours might just as well be wearing a sign that says, “Ask my mom or me why I’m not in school today!”
Most often inquisitors are friendly, curious folks who would also ask why you’re wearing a fur hat in July. Even so, as a new homeschooling family you might find the situation uncomfortable if you have to define or defend your choice.
Solution: Educate yourself so you can meet inquiries calmly and confidently, skipping defensiveness. Think beforehand what type of brief and brilliant answer you’ll give before you’re actually in the situation. You’ll be amazed at how your confidence shines through, and how good you’ll feel about your homeschooling, too.
No matter which of these situations may occur in your early forays into the homeschooling lifestyle, always remember homeschooling can – and should be – fun for the entire family!